Sunday Toons: The Emperor’s New ApologeticsJanuary 25, 2009 — Deacon Duncan
In the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes, a couple of con men exploit people’s vanity by pretending to be tailors whose work is so exquisite that only the truly wise can see it. The emperor, not wanting people to doubt his wisdom, ends up parading around nude in public, and all the courtiers and nobles convince themselves that they, too, can see his fine new clothes, and are therefore not stupid. The charade comes to a humiliating end when a child too young to be vain about his intellect asks, “Mommy, why is that man naked?”
Of course, nobody would try to pull a scam like that today, would they? Well, not unless they were selling apologetics and scholarship instead of trousers and jackets. And speaking of which, here’s an excerpt from JP Holding’s attempt to deal with last week’s Toons.
Dumplin’ just shows how stupid he is when he says that my observation was “trivial and superficial.” Dumbass, it’s the key to Paul’s whole argument! You’re just too stupid to understand the relevance of appeal to the example of an ingroup leader within the context of a collectivist society.
Yes folks, JP has an argument so refined and so sublime that only the truly wise can see it. You can’t find any fault with it. You can’t even point out any shortcomings. If you criticize it at all, you’re just proving that you are not wise. Obviously so, since you cannot perceive the brilliance of JP’s argument, which as we mentioned before is so refined and so sublime that only the truly wise can see it. And I don’t care what dangly bits you happen to see hanging out.
Well, I’ve got to hand it to old JP, it’s a pretty good con, in certain circles at least. Every time he puts up a flawed, two-bit analysis or rebuttal, he’s golden, because pointing out its flaws just deals him the cards he needs to claim that you’re stupid. You must be stupid, because his arguments are so brilliant that only non-stupid people can truly perceive and appreciate it. And everybody who falls for JP’s ENC scam (including JP himself) is going to count it as a big win.
Still, I think at some level JP is a bit bothered by my tiny, piping voice asking, “Mommy, why is that man naked?” You’ll notice he has prudently omitted the link back to my post this time. I’m happy to link to JP anytime, because I love to have people see him as representing the voice of the Gospel today, but I’m afraid that’s an attitude that JP does not reciprocate. The last thing he wants is more people reading my blog, and he takes quite a bit of consolation in thinking that he has more readers than I do.
No, Dumbass. Whether the Corinthian doubters were framing their doubts in terms of questions or statements doesn’t change my argument one bit and doesn’t change the fact that you didn’t grasp my point, which rests on an inconsistency in the Corinthian argument when it comes to Jesus’ resurrection in the past vs THEIR resurrection in the future. No wonder Dumbass’ blog gets only as many visitors a month as my single article on Osiris.
Unfortunately, JP’s attitude not only encourages sloppy scholarship on his part, it makes it nearly mandatory. For example, here’s his defense of the claim that the resurrection deniers did believe that Jesus rose from the dead:
Duh, Dumplin’? It’s pretty clear that the Corinthians are NOT denying the resurrection of Jesus, precisely because Paul is able to bring it to them as something they believe in! Duh ah! If they DID doubt that Jesus rose from the dead, he’d have started from a different place in his argument, you moron!
Darn, there I go failing to perceive the sublime brilliance of his argument (that only the truly wise can perceive). He’s got a point, though. If the Corinthians did have doubts about the resurrection of Jesus as well, then Paul would have needed to take a few verses at the beginning of chapter 15 to re-assert and reinforce the idea that Jesus rose from the dead, instead of being able to take the resurrection of Jesus for granted and going straight to the bit about “If there is no resurrection, that would mean that Jesus didn’t rise.” That’s why 1 Cor 15 begins like this.
1Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
3For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Peter,[b] and then to the Twelve. 6After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
9For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11Whether, then, it was I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.
Hmm, I must be too dumb to perceive the brilliance of JP’s argument. Looks to me like Paul did begin by re-asserting and reinforcing the idea that Jesus really did rise, before he could proceed to the argument that would have been the most natural and obvious starting point (vv. 12-13), assuming it were true that the Corinthian doubters had not had any doubts about Jesus really rising. And did I mention that Gentiles weren’t the only ones who denied the resurrection?
“Certain amount of scholarship” — yeah, this shows why that’s foreign language to Dumplin’. I know about Jews who denied resurrection, you dip. Did you have some evidence that modern scholarship was unaware of that the Sadduccees existed anywhere except in Palestine (and in Corinth)? Oops.
Oops indeed. No Jew living outside of Palestine knows or cares about anything happening in Jerusalem, so it’s perfectly reasonable to assume, as JP does, that Corinthian Jews were completely ignorant of what Sadducees believed, and thus Sadducean teachings on resurrection had no influence on them, even when they also were inclined to deny resurrection. Or at least, that’s what I might say if I were able to perceive the mystical and ineffable brilliance of JP’s argument. But since that’s invisible to all but the truly wise, I guess it’s understandable that I might have missed it. Seems to me that theological disputes between two major Holy Land factions might come up in Jewish conversation even as far away as Corinth.
When I pointed out how JP’s explanation of the inconsistency in the Corinthians beliefs falls short by failing to explain how they managed to acquire those inconsistent beliefs without noticing the conflict, his response was to appeal once again to the superior and even unattainable excellence of his own brilliance (which only the truly wise bla bla bla).
Duh ah…I did say “how,” moron….they were influenced by pagan ideas about resurrection. “Why” is easy even for you: The ideas were there in that social milieu and they had been influenced by them for their entire lives…duh ah….the reason you focus on this aspect is because you have Dunning’s disorder.
(“Dunning’s disorder, in case you’re new to it, is a fake psychiatric diagnosis JP made up, in fulfillment of the Gypsy Curse, in which the victim is unable to accurately assess his own performance, and thinks he is doing better than he really is.)
You may have noticed that I’m actually not buying the idea that only truly wise people can perceive the brilliance of JP’s wit and insight, and that’s because of arguments like the above. He says the Corinthians acquired the idea that there is no resurrection because people around them believed that there is no resurrection. But that’s a shallow explanation, to the point of being a non-explanation, because it ignores the question of how they could fail to recognize that this common, worldly belief was at all in conflict with their faith. If there arose, in the modern Christian church, a movement that decided there was no God, because of secular, atheistic influence, and did not realize that this conflicted with their faith at a fundamental level, wouldn’t that be worth a bit more analysis than just brushing it off by saying, “oh, that’s just the secular influence”?
It might be. Then again, if you didn’t make a slipshod apologetic, people wouldn’t criticize it, and then you couldn’t point and laugh and say, “You must be stupid, because my wisdom is so exalted that only smart people can see it.”
“Dunning’s disorder” indeed.